The Halifax Public Gardens are Victorian-style gardens located in the heart of the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The 18 acre site was officially opened in 1867 (the year of Canadian Confederation) and declared a National Historic Site of Canada in 1984.
I have stayed in Halifax on a couple of occasions without visiting the gardens and it honestly hadn't been on the agenda for my recent trip either. I was visiting for less than 48 hours with my teenage daughter, Katie, for the express purpose of touring Dalhousie University so I didn't expect to have free time for sightseeing. As it happened, Katie made plans to spend a couple of hours with a friend before our Saturday evening flight so I used that small window of time to climb to Citadel Hill and to stroll through the Public Gardens.
Visitors are welcomed to the Public Gardens by an ornate set of wrought iron gates that were constructed in Scotland late in the 19th century. The 16 foot high Main Gates were moved from their original location and are now found at the southeast entrance to the gardens.
The Boer War Memorial Fountain was erected in 1903 in recognition of the role that Canadian soldiers played in the war in South Africa.
Even though it was very late September when I visited the beds of flowers were still blooming and quite lovely.
Bird watchers will enjoy Griffin's Pond where they will find a variety of waterfowl. The pond is named for an Irishman who was wrongfully convicted of murder and hanged on this location.
There were many ducks in the pond on the day that I visited but it was this bird that had captured the attention of everyone in the vicinity. I'm far from being a bird expert but I would guess that it's a Blue Heron.
The classical Victoria Jubilee Fountain was added to the Gardens in 1897 in order to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.
The Bandstand in the Halifax Public Gardens was also built to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee and was restored in 2011. The Bandstand is located at the centre of the gardens and has been used for concerts and social events since it was first built in 1887.
I was fortunate to see the dahlias blooming in the Public Gardens at the time of my visit. The dahlias are in season from August through to the first frost and are one of the most popular flower displays.
The Upper and Lower Bridges near the main entrance make a great backdrop and are apparently a popular spot to take wedding and graduation photos.
Snacks and drinks can be purchased in the Uncommon Grounds Café located in Horticultural Hall and enjoyed indoors or in the outdoor seating area. Horticultural Hall is the oldest part of the Public Gardens as it was built in the 1840s as a meeting hall for the Nova Scotia Horticultural Society.
I was short of time on the day of my visit but would have loved to take one of the volunteer-led Garden Tours that are organized by the Friends of the Public Gardens.
It was a gorgeous, sunny afternoon in late September when I visited and the gardens were still quite lovely and serene - the ideal place for a quiet stroll in the midst of a bustling city. I'm glad that I was finally able to visit the gardens and look forward to visiting again the next time that I'm in Halifax.
What You Need To Know
- The Public Gardens are centrally located in Halifax within walking distance of all downtown hotels. The Main Gate entrance is at the corner of Spring Garden Road and South Park Street.
- The gardens are open 8am to dusk, 7 days a week.
- There is no entrance fee to the Halifax Public Gardens.
- The gardens, Horticultural Hall and the public washrooms are all wheelchair accessible.
- Free history and horticultural tours are offered (seasonally) by the Friends of the Public Garden organization. A calendar of events is available on the website. Tours are generally 1 hour in length, the number of participants may be limited and they may be cancelled in the event of bad weather.
- Pets, cycling and jogging are not permitted in the park as it is intended to be a peaceful environment. There is a bicycle parking area outside the Main Gates.
- The Halifax Public Gardens is a smoke-free zone.
- Feeding the water fowl and birds is strictly prohibited and there is a large fine for anyone caught doing so.
- Playing is encouraged on the Family Lawn but in other areas of the garden visitors are expected to walk on the pathways rather than the grass.
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